We explain the most important regional shipping regulations.

Due to different regulations in individual regions and countries, shipping goods from one part of the world to another can seem complicated. Let us help by explaining the most important rules and regulations.

Customs manifests

Customs authorities require a clear overview of who is moving what, to whom and from where. They get this from the customs manifest. A customs manifest contains all the basic information about a shipment, such as the consigner and consignee, a list of contents, and the value, origin and destination. This helps authorities with security, risk analysis, risk assessment, risk management, counter terrorism and customs control.

Under the World Customs Organisation (WCO) SAFE framework, the mandatory collection of cargo information for customs via an electronic customs manifest was first implemented in the U.S. in 2005. Many countries and regions, including China, the EU, Turkey and Japan, have since followed suit.

We always engage with regulatory bodies to adopt new legislations as part of our everyday business.

Below you can read about the different regional regulations and how they impact your shipping.

U.S. Customs 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest Rule

Carriers and NVOCCs must submit a manifest (bill of lading information) to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) 24 hours before cargo is loaded onto vessels visiting the U.S.

The purpose of the rule is to enable the CBP to analyse container content information before a container is loaded and, thereby, decide on its loading/no loading status in advance.

In case of non-compliance with the rule, the most serious consequence would be the halting of loading or unloading and a consequent disruption of cargo flows and supply chains. Furthermore, CBP imposes fines or other penalties on the carriers and other parties responsible for the submission of bills of lading.

The scope of the rule

The 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest Rule applies to:

  All vessels due to call at a U.S. port
  All cargo destined for the U.S. or carried via U.S. ports to non-U.S. destinations
  The rule does not apply to feeder or transhipment vessels that are not unloading at the U.S. 
  However, the 24-Hour Advance Manifest Rule does apply when the cargo is transhipped onto
     a vessel that calls at a U.S. port.

How we comply

Our electronic systems allow us to submit our manifested bills of lading to CBP in a correct, quick and secure fashion.

In order to create the customs manifest, we need to get information from you in advance of the local reporting deadline. Our global teams have been specially trained to handle any questions you might have about the 24-Hour Advance Manifest Rule.

Your responsibilities as a shipper

We strongly recommend that you become acquainted with the rule and follow the overall guidelines listed below when shipping cargo to the U.S.

Please ensure the correct and timely submission of the required information (as required by U.S. Customs). Be as specific as possible with cargo descriptions on all documentation. Ensure that the correct seal numbers are reported (i.e. the last attached container seal number or numbers) prior to loading the container).

We recommend that you use our shipping instructions and transport document services. This will save time, expedite the process and improve documentation accuracy.

Information required by U.S. Customs

To fulfil our responsibilities when submitting a customs manifest to CBP, we require the following information from you, as the shipper or agent:

A precise description of the cargo or the 6-digit Harmonised Tariff Schedule (HTS) number under which the cargo is classified, and the weight of the cargo. See the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.
For a sealed container, we require the shipper's declared description and weight of the cargo.
Please note: Generic descriptions such as FAK (freight of all kinds), STC (said to contain), general cargo, toys, or chemicals are not acceptable.

Here are some guidelines to follow when describing your cargo:

The quantity of cargo should be expressed in the lowest external packaging unit. Containers and pallets are not acceptable units. For example, a container containing 10 pallets, each with 200 cartons, should be described as 2,000 cartons.

Include the shipper's complete name and address or future ACE identification number (unique number assigned by CBP upon the implementation of the Automated Commercial Environment) from all bills of lading.

Include the complete name and address of the consignee in the U.S., and the owner, owner's representative or future ACE identification number from all bills of lading.

Include the container numbers and seal numbers for all seals affixed to containers.

Include the internationally recognised hazardous material code, where applicable.

Note: For acceptable and non-acceptable cargo descriptions see U.S. Customs: Frequently Asked Questions on the 24-Hour Rule.

Special requirements to NVOCCs

The 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest Rule requires NVOCCs to submit house bill of lading details to U.S. Customs. An NVOCC can choose to file through its own system (automated NVOCC), the carrier's system, or an automated third party filing service.

In addition to compliance with the 24-Hour Rule, please note the following:

It is important for all NVOCCs to inform us at the time of booking, and to include in their shipping instructions, that the cargo declaration information will be transmitted by the NVOCC directly to U.S. Customs via ACE. If not, we will transmit the cargo declaration information on behalf of the NVOCC as indicated in the shipping instructions and pursuant to the terms of the contract.

The correct carrier's SCAC (Standard Carrier Alpha Code) is essential to the communication process with U.S. Customs. This code allows U.S. Customs to transmit load and no-load information to the proper parties. It is imperative that NVOCCs include this SCAC code as the "second notify" party on cargo declarations submitted to U.S. Customs for cargo booked with us.

Non-automated NVOCCs must submit their house bill of lading and shipping instructions to us simultaneously, allowing us to file both with U.S. Customs. Failure to meet the 24-Hour Rule requirements will have significant adverse consequences for NVOCCs. In addition to actions by U.S. Customs, such as the imposition of fines, our tariff states that shippers and NVOCCs will be liable for all costs, damages or other losses incurred by us as a result of non-compliance.

10+2 - Importer Security Filing (ISF)

The CBP’s 10+2 interim final rule became effective on 26 January 2009. The regulation requires importers and ocean carriers to electronically submit additional data to CBP for containers on board vessels destined to the U.S.

U.S. importers are responsible for the 10 additional sets of data elements, which are:

  Buyer and ship-to names and addresses
  Container stuffing location
  Importer and consignee record numbers
  Country of origin of goods
  The Commodity Harmonized Tariff Schedule number

The Carrier must submit two additional data sets:

Vessel Stowage Plan (or BAPLIE)
Container Status Messages
Finally, carriers will need to provide five additional data elements for shipments consisting entirely of foreign cargo remaining on board (FROB), intended to be transported in-bond as an immediate exportation (IE), or for transportation and exportation (T&E).

The five additional data elements are:

  Booking party
  Foreign port of unloading
  Place of delivery
  Ship-to party
  Commodity HTSUS number

We will file this information to CBP and it will be necessary for shippers or importers to provide the Commodity HTSUS number.

As of December 2014, no ruling has been made as to filing requirements for house bill details for T&E, IE or FROB cargo. As a result, U.S. Customs is currently not enforcing that portion of the five data elements of ISF.